Human bites are usually caused by one person biting another, although they may result from a situation in which one person comes into contact with another person's teeth.
In a fight, for example, one person's knuckles may come into contact with another person's teeth, and if the impact breaks the skin, the injury would be considered a bite.
Human bites that break the skin, like all puncture wounds, have a high risk of infection. They also pose a risk of injury to tendons and joints.
Bites are very common among young children. Children often bite to express anger or other negative feelings.
Human bites may be more dangerous than most animal bites. There are germs in some human mouths that can cause infections that are hard to treat. If you have an infected human bite, especially on your hand, you may need to be admitted to the hospital to receive antibiotics through a vein (intravenously). In some cases, you may need surgery.
Bites may produce symptoms ranging from mild to severe:
A doctor should promptly evaluate all human bites that break the skin. Bites may be especially serious when:
Antibiotics are often given after a human bite to prevent infections.
Bites - human
Brook I. Management of human and animal bite wounds: an overview. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005;18:197-203.
Weber EJ. Mammalian bites. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2009:chap. 58.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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